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My next door neighbor replaced his heat pump this past year. He replaced it with the cheapest one he could buy. (13 SEER / 7.8 HSPF) If he went with the highest rated model, (Goodman), he would have purchased a 18 SEER/9.5 HSPF maybe his electric bill would not have been so high. It was $339! By my guess, he used almost 4000kW Hours. Most of this was because it was so cold outside. I managed only to use 999kW hours in the same billing cycle with 136 Therms of Gas used. That total for the two was $237 , or almost $100 dollars less.

If he had installed the more efficient heat pump he could have reduced his electric bill by at least 20%. That is equal to almost $70. The summer bill should also decrease.  Winner every single month!

The nice thing about a solar powered pond is that the pond pump is off during the winter! I only have to design around the spring summer and fall.

First design thought, I will not run the pump at night. I would say I would run it from 9am until 6pm.

Second design thought, AC or DC? An all DC system would be good because of no inverter losses. Even so, inverter losses are only about 5% on average. Because of start-up currents I would have to oversize my inverter to compensate. That means more money for an inverter. I do like the keep it simple approach. One less item to purchase and maintenance. DC system it is.

Third design thought, 12V or 24V. This is a little harder. It really depends on total system wattage. I have been looking at boat bilge pumps. A 2000 gph pump draws 8.4 amps @12Vdc. That is only 100 Watts.  The same size pump at 24Vdc draws 4 amps. That is 96 Watts. This is a small difference of 4 watts but it is worth noting. Now comes the charge controller. I want to use a MPPT type controller. The Sunsaver MPPT controller has a better efficiency @24Vdc. It will do both voltages. So I could start at 12 VDC and upgrade to 24VDC later.

Forth design thought, No controller, No batteries? They sell linear boosters for just this, pumping water. At about $100, this would be cheaper then batteries and a controller. Since the units are sized in amperage instead of voltage, it is better to get the 24VDC pump. All pumps do the same amount of work so the 24V pump has half the Amp rating. P=I x V

What Have I come up with?

  1. Rule 24V bilge pump – $125.
  2. Linear Current Booster PPT 12/24 – 7V – $100
  3. Solar Panel ~120W – $500? (Slightly Over sized) Still looking for a deal. Shipping is what gets you.

So for about $700 I cold have a nice pond setup. For reference, my father in-law has a small pond. He runs his pump 24/7. It adds about $20 to his electric bill each month. Another issue I had not mentioned, I don’t have to or want to run the AC line for the house up to the pond. No trenching or conduit or GFCI outlet or or or… Just a water fall and solar panel.

Why would I be thrilled. I used almost 500kW hours less electricity then the same time last year. I only used 999kW hours this past bill. Last year I used 1528kW hours. Here is the special thing. I run two small space heaters during the night. Since the furnace does not heat each of my children’s room constantly, I close the vents and run the electric heater instead. My son likes it cooler (67) and my daughter likes it warmer (72). We also run an electric space heater in the bathroom when we shower. (No one wants to leave a warm shower for a cold bathroom)

For about ten days during the billing period the temperature were unseasonably cold. The Gas furnace seemed to run most of the time. (Gas bill was higher than last year) The furnace has an electric fan that draws a little over 500 Watts when running. The fan running 50% of the time for a month would be 180kW hours. I am sure it was less than that but may have been about 100kW hours or 10% of total usage.

I will be very interested to see what spring brings. Not running the AC or Heat should make for some low bills. Even lower than last year. Just remember, all of my reduction have come from the awareness that the TED unit has given me. Without it I would be in the dark so to speak. I think everyone should have a TED or something similar. Smart Grid anyone?

I want a reliable family car that gets 30mpg+ on the highway. My current SUV gets a wonderfully dismal 22mpg on the highway. But when I bought it used four years ago I wanted power and handling. If the V8 was to be had cheap, I would have purchased that instead. (I guess it was a good thing.)  Now, I love my SUV but it is all sport and no utility. I would have been much better off with a sporty car instead. Then maybe I would not be looking for a replacement.

Reliability is the first concern. According to the wife that means no GM or Chrysler. A long shot is Ford. But for sure a Honda or Toyota. Then you have all the other that are slight maybes. She is does not look favorably to the Euro brands because of their reliability issues. Personally, I would love to get a used diesel. And who makes diesels, the Europeans.

Fuel Economy is a distant second. In case you did not know, fueleconomy.gov is a great site to find and compare cars by MPG.  What did I come up with Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, and Ford Fusion. Sure they are all nice cars. But if I had it my way, give me a diesel AWD  that gets 40mpg+ on the highway. BMW, Mercedes and VW/Audi all have a model or two that would fit the bill, in Europe. A BMW 320d ­EfficientDynamics Edition with AWD. Without AWD it gets 57MPG. I would have to think AWD would not reduce it to below 50MPG on the highway. One can dream anyway.

SO I was reading the news report about Wal-mart pulling children’s jewelry from the shelves because of high Cadmium levels. I then recalled that China had a problem with high Lead levels a few years back. But the thing that I find most disturbing is that  every bit I hear about Chinese product problems are an involuntary action. That is to say, someone caught them red-handed. When is China going to police themselves? Are they incapable of regulations? Maybe they are? Corruption, I hear is very high in China. This is not Drywall. This is children’s Jewelry! What about jewelry for adults? Does that have heavy metals in it too.

One would think that with capital punishment more prevalent in China that people would use their heads. I am all for buying and shopping local. I always have my wife buy eggs from the local hatchery. Even if they cost $0.50 more a dozen. Have you tried to buy only domestic products. (I can’t imagine what others do outside the USA. It is bad enough here.) But we will never get away from China. Labor is just to cheap and plentiful. I just hope they get on the quality/safety bandwagon. And soon.

P.S. in that article, A cadmium specialist from China told the AP that cadmium is normally directed to the Chinese domestic market. Who cares where it is going. Don’t use it!

So I would say it is the middle of winter. Maybe not by the calendar, but the thermometer says so. From my observations, the electricity usage for the hot water heat pump have increased from 3.33kW hours to about 4kW hours per day on average.  This increase can be attributed to three factors.

  1. The incoming water temperature has decreased because of colder ground temperatures.
  2. The heat pumps ambient air temperature has decreased.
  3. The shower “anti-scald valve” has caused me to increase the tank temperature.

Factors explained.

  1. This is easy. Colder air temperatures cause the ground temperatures to go down also.
  2. I would say the air temperature in the summer for the heat pump was about 80 degrees. Now it is around 60 degrees.  This makes the heat pump work heard to get the tank back to the set point.
  3. The shower fixtures in my house have a anti-scald valve. This is for safety. This means that cold water is always mixed with incoming hot water and that comes out of the shower head. I use to have the tank set at 120 degrees. Now I have to have it set at 125 degrees to get the same hotness of water at the head. I was also informed today that “my shower was not hot enough”, so I may have to increase the tank temp. again.

If I had my old gas tank, I would only have to deal with 1 and 3. Personally, I think it is 1 and 3 that are causing the biggest increase in energy usage. This means I am still money ahead in using my hot water heat pump.

Tonight it is going to get down to 5 degrees. Not unheard of in Indiana but it is still cold. My furnace will run all night to keep up. I have thought about pellet stove on and off for the past four years. I do like the ones that can burn or bio-mass products, such as corn. Now the furnace running for 12 hours will use 6 kW hours for the blower motor. (In any new house I would build I would have radiant floor heating. The water pumps use much less than that.)

I have been able to gather that a typical stove uses about  150  Watts while running. This is an average, so for this night it would be more. 150 W x 24 hours = 3.6 kW for the entire day not just the 12 hour night. With my current furnace setup I figure the corn stove/pellet stove would use have as much power.

So if the stove use 3.6kW a day that would be 100 kW hours. Not that the stove would provide 100% of my home heating needs. (maybe?) 100 kW hours is equal to about $10. If one burns for 5 months a year that is $50 added to the pellet stove operating costs. For most, it may only be an additional 10%. But it is something to remember.